For the last few months, I have lived in a season of Hebrews 13:13.
“Go to Jesus outside the camp . . . “
Those six words found me months ago in a place of discouragement, disconnect, and defeat. And it was those words that gave me the permission I was seeking to walk away.
And I did.
Instead of waking up on Sunday mornings and heading to “camp,” I drove two hours to climb mountains. I hopped on my bike and enjoyed the wind blowing freely through my hair. I hooked up two pups and walked among quiet streets. I stayed in my PJs and enjoyed a mug of hot Joe on the back porch. I attempted to build an outdoor fire while curled up under a wool blanket with a good book.
Outside the camp, I found a place to lean into the pain I was feeling. To lean into the loneliness. To sit with the questions and the doubts. To live into the tension of the now and the not yet promise to come. I sat with the wounds, with the hurt. I searched for answers. Sought clarity. Do I stay? Do I Go? I yearned to forgive. To find a place at the table. And pursued release.
Perhaps selfishly, I was hoping Jesus would show up---in my corner and validate all the reasons I had for wanting to step out, and relieve me from it all. But the only thing I heard in the depths of my soul was, “I love you.” Over and over again. I would pray, and hear “I love you.” I would whine and complain, pointing fingers, and hear “I love you.” I would cry out, and hear, “I love you.” I would yell, kick and scream, and hear, “Melissa, I love you.” I would read the Scriptures, and hear “I love you.”
His love changes everything you know?!?!!!
On my journey outside the camp, I was reminded that I am unable to freely love when my self-worth is tangled up in someone else’s free will. It’s so easy to let the imperfect bits of our humanity tell us that we aren’t good enough, that we could never be loved completely and accepted fully, it diminish our worthiness, and robs us a seat at His table. It’s easy to let our pain build walls of protection, to harden our hearts and to push love out. But Jesus challenges us to belive that we are beautiful, worthy and celebrated. He challenges us to trust that our short comings, our failures, our hidden thoughts, our secret deeds, cannot and will never alter His love towards us.
Pain will always be a part of my story---in some way, it’s a part of all our stories. But I am learning that when we stop running from it, when we stop letting fear and judgment keep us stuck in the pain, when we lean into it, and are satisfied that Jesus too, is there with us, it eventually gives way to blessed release, hopeful joy and a way to rest in His love.
I thought with Hebrews 13:13 I was getting a free pass to run away from pain. But in hindsight, I was given the opportunity to run into the arms of love.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I am thankful for love.
I am thankful that I continue to be a person whose God’s love is at work in. I am thankful for the gospel that mandates grace upon grace upon grace upon grace. I am thankful that I am continually confronted by the love of the gospel that gives me no choice but to love my enemies, my neighbors, my friends. Those who think like me, and those who don’t. Those who make their home inside of camp, and those who dwell outside its walls … all because, me—a sinner saved by grace, is found worthy of His perfect love.